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St. Michaels Concours d'Elegance

Sep 21, 2011 06:00PM ● By Anonymous

The attraction of a concours d'elegance involves beautiful scenery, high fashion, and revery for the excess of the early twentieth century, an indulgence that might still be familiar to us today, only lacking such a fantastic sense of style.  Now in its fifth year, the St. Michaels Concours d'Elegance looks to secure a place in the expansive world of fine automobiles, annually bringing the classic era back to life for one remarkable autumn day.

This year's event, to be held Sunday, September 25th at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, continues with a few positive trends, the foremost of which is use of the museum campus at Navy Point.  The second plus is the show's ticket price of $35.00 for general admission, equal to that of the well established Radnor Hunt Concours d'Elegance outside Philadelphia, and far below the cost of the nation's biggest events.  Gates open at 10:00am, and general admission patrons can enjoy food and refreshments available for purchase from Pascal's Harbor Inn, a new addition that encourages visitors to make a full day of the show.
The concours beneficiary is the Maritime Museum itself, which presents a nice opportunity for enthusiasts of both rolling and floating transportation to mingle on the waterfront in support of this valuable non-profit organization.

As to the automobiles, the St. Michaels show has been distinct among concours d'elegance for its focus on pre-War cars, which has meant lots of big and bold classic-era entrants.  This defines cars from the 1930s with sweeping lines, spindly wheels, and if one looks underneath, somewhat primitive geometry in the chassis and suspension.  However, the selection committee has added post-War sports and racing cars up to 1960, which will provide sleek and powerful contrast to the older, befendered equipment.
This addition is well within the concours' stated aim of presenting the "Golden Age of Motoring," as cars from the 1930s are said to represent the true golden era of the automobile, while the first decade or so following the War is often said to be the golden era of motor racing.  For those who follow the concours scene, the sort of automobiles in play are so particular that they've become celebrities in their own right, and going to a nice concours event is a chance to "meet" them in person.

Even so, general audiences should be charmed by the Maritime Museum campus, by the way its lawns flow between period Chesapeake Bay structures, shipwright exhibits, and the lovely Hooper Straight Lighthouse.  It's a wonderful venue for classic automobiles, and of course prompts the inclusion of a classic wooden speedboat display, just to give the motoring aesthetic some nautical counterpoint.  According to concours committee chair David North, the boat presence will be much enhanced over previous years, featuring between ten and fifteen participants.

As is tradition for events of this caliber, a contemporary fashion show will take place, beginning at 1:00pm, while the awards ceremony will start at 3:00pm.  Also sharing space on the show field will be vendors of antique and estate jewelry.  And finally, Hagerty Auto Insurance is sponsoring a youth judging program during the event, in which area high school students will learn how the experts look at these automobiles, and then determine their own Best of Show.

The St. Michaels Concours d'Elegance has consistently expanded its appeal both to the devoted automotive enthusiast who's always chasing down the next great event, and to the inquisitive local resident who's in search of a pleasant way to spend an autumn weekend.  This event is Maryland's own contribution to what has become a vibrant national trend in automobile culture, and is well fit to represent the best of what the Chesapeake Bay region has to offer.